FOP Chief: Citizen Video Makes Cops "Afraid To Act"

When I last spoke with Jim Pasco, head of the Fraternal Order of Police, he said he objected to allowing citizens to videotape police because police officers have a right to privacy while on the job and because he feared video could be edited and manipulated to make cops look bad. "Police officers don’t check their civil rights at the station house door," he said. He also implied that cops lying on the witness stand is as rare as DNA tests implicating the wrong person.

In USA Today, Pasco now appears to be employing a new strategy.

"The proliferation of cheap video equipment is presenting a whole new dynamic for law enforcement," says Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest police union. "It has had a chilling effect on some officers who are now afraid to act for fear of retribution by video. This has become a serious safety issue. I'm afraid something terrible will happen."

Over the last year I've received email and heard from a number of police officers on radio call-in shows who've said that citizen-shot video vindicated them in cases where they had been accused of misconduct. If video has been edited or manipulated, that's pretty easy to discern should it become a key piece of evidence against a police officer.

We want cops second-guessing decisions that are second-guessable. If an abundance of video cameras helps that to happen, all the better.

But there's no reason citizen video should make a good cop think twice before using appropriate force to apprehend someone who presents a threat to others. As noted above, he should welcome it, in case the suspect later claims the force was unwarranted. The problem is that when the head of the country's largest police union says he fears video will make cops hesitate before using legitimate force—just after saying video can be manipulated to make good cops look bad—he's really encouraging hesitation in these situations.

I don't know if Pasco's new line of attack will be more successful than his "cops have privacy rights" position. But it strikes me as irresponsible, and likely to encourage the very thing Pasco says he fears.

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  • ||

    Making cops and other government employees afraid to act extralegally or otherwise badly. . . . Hmmm, is that a bad thing or one of those other things?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Exactly. It's a feature, not a bug. Also, the proliferation of public cameras in every major city is being lead by the cops. They sure don't mind video taping us at work or at play.

  • Cyto||

    I for one welcome Pasco to our side of the argument. It is about time that someone in the police establishment realized that the cops are in need of some form of check on their ability to act with impunity. I'm glad he sees the benefit of reminding police officers to avoid acting in improper or criminal ways before they cross the line.

    What? You don't think that's what he meant by "afraid to act for fear of retribution by video"?

  • Old Mexican||

    Jim Pasco, head of the Fraternal Order of Police,[...] said he objected to allowing citizens to videotape police because police officers have a right to privacy while on the job and because he feared video could be edited and manipulated to make cops look bad.

    Where to begin?

    First, you're public servants, paid with taxpayer (i.e. stolen by the state) money - YOU HAVE THUS NO PRIVACY WHEN ON THE JOB, MORON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Second, the argument that video might be "edited" to make police "look bad" is absurd; the same could be said then about video taken by the police - it could be "edited" to make the "suspect" look bad.

    Idiot.

  • Mango Punch||

    *This isn't Mexico, there is no corruption in the United States.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Police videos are never edited. They are just mysteriously lost.

  • ||

    Yeah, video editing takes, you know, actual skills.

  • prolefeed||

    I don't think all caps and 13 exclamation marks is a strong enough form of emphasis, OM. Maybe 14 exclamation marks will put you over the top. ;)

  • ||

    Hey, if those cops have nothing to hide...

  • ||

    Winner.

  • Reformed Republican||

    Exactly. If the cops are not doing anything wrong, they should not have anything to worry about.

    It is just like red light cameras or searches without cause or random ID checks.

  • Jeff||

    Actually, it's nothing like either of the examples you've cited. Red light cameras are run by for-profit entities that have a vested interest in the outcome of your case. We have seen courts say that it's a violation of your due process rights to have judges paid per-warrant/guilty verdict and to have police paid by ticket, so why is it acceptable to have a locality enter into a contract with a company that's paid per ticket?

    As for random ID checks - for what purpose? To enforce a criminal law? If that's the reason, you've got that pesky Fourth Amendment thing that requires individualized suspicion to justify a "seizure" standing in your way.

  • ||

    Missing the point, Jeff. This is a sauce for the goose type deal. The cops are constantly telling us that the only people who would complain about things like random ID checks must have something to hide.

  • ||

    Red light cameras are run by for-profit entities that have a vested interest in the outcome of your case. We have seen courts say that it's a violation of your due process rights to have judges paid per-warrant/guilty verdict and to have police paid by ticket, so why is it acceptable to have a locality enter into a contract with a company that's paid per ticket?

    It's cute when people thing that for-profit companies profiting from red light tickets is any different from the police profiting from traffic tickets without the middleman.

  • Jeff||

    The practical distinction is irrelevant - there is a legal one that bars the practice.

  • ||

    What, you actually think that the cops/cities don't profit from traffic tickets?

    There's substantial evidence showing that traffic citations rise when city and county revenue falls.

    Money is fungible. The city gets more revenue, hey, it can "afford" to raise cop salaries. Nothing to see here, though, there's a legal bar to the practice of doing it directly.

  • JD||

    At least there's a modicum of due process when the police do it directly. The red light cameras are a blatant Confrontation Clause violation.

  • ||

    Although there's a greater chance of the cops being racist or discriminatory when they do it directly, so you win some, you lose some.

    I agree with you on the Confrontation Clause issue, but that's something that actually can be addressed. Luckily the SCOTUS is getting a little more willing to resurrect the Confrontation Clause, thank Justices Thomas, Scalia, and the formalist liberals. (See Melendez-Diaz and the recent Virginia case.)

    I hate the cameras, but I hate the arbitrary traffic cops too.

  • ||

    At least there's a modicum of due process when the police do it directly.

    Either you've never been to traffic court, or "modicum of due process" doesn't mean what you think it means.

  • ||

    Or prosecutors profiting non-monetarily: conviction count.

  • Mango Punch||

    It has had a chilling effect on some officers who are now afraid to act [improperly] for fear of retribution by video.


    Isn't that the whole point?

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure that if the cops who beat the crap out of a prostrate Rodney King with nightsticks had knpown they were being videotaped t might have had a "chilling effect" on the "law enforcement" techniques they used.

    An off site repository for videos of cop behavior should be on your cell phone quick dial.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Automatic upload to Youtube.

    FTW for you.

    FTL for the cops.

  • Paul||

    Over the last year I've received email and heard from a number of police officers on radio call-in shows who've said that citizen-shot video vindicated them in cases where they had been accused of misconduct

    Case in point.

    While the above video was initially billed as problematic for the officeer, a lot of people (me included) thought that in this particular case, he actually acted appropriately.

    But regardless, it doesn't matter.

    Here's my standard response to cops who think they shouldn't be videotaped by citizens: If you have nothing to hide...

  • Matrix||

    I often hear the question, "what do you have to hide?" when I am against a warrantless search.

    So... what do these cops have to hide from people video taping them? This FOP ben zonah can stick it you-know-where. I'm on cameras every day when I'm out on the street. There is no privacy out there.

  • The Gobbler||

    The FOP has only one objective. Calling my house every day asking for money.

  • ||

    Next time they do that, just say "hang on a sec, I've got something on the stove." Then put the phone down and walk away. It's WAY better than blowing a whistle into the phone and hanging up. Plus you are taking their time from calling other unfortunate subjects.

  • The Gobbler||

    It's on an old phone line that I never answer. Out of curiosity, I hooked up an caller ID to it just to see who calls. In addition to FOP, I kept getting a call from Calgery, a collection agency. So I called them and asked why they were calling the number. A woman asked what number that was, I told her, and she then asked, "Are you Arnold Reynolds?" I replied, "Do I sound like Arnold Reynolds?" Se answered, "Well I wouldn't know what Arnold Reynolds sounds like." I told her, "Well he doen't sound like me, so quit calling this number as it has been in my family for nearly seventy years and during that time not one of us has known an Arnold Reynolds much less allowed one to live here." She said she would remove the number from their calling list and they never called back.

    My take-away is this: if you have creditors calling you, just tell them they have the wrong number.

  • ||

    Thanks for the advice, Arnold. I'm gonna try that.

  • ||

    Aren't these the same people who constantly tell us that it is okay for them to tap our phones, kick in our doors or search wherever they like because "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about"? But now cops can't be videotaped because it might cause them to be fearful to act? Something doesn't quite follow here.

  • ||

    So this guy is essentially saying that the thin blue line who are brave enough to stand between us poor defenseless folks and anarchy, putting their lives on the line every time they leave the house...

    are going to be afraid because someone might catch them on video, put it up on the internet and attract comments from anonymous people that hurts their feewings?

  • The Thick Blue Line||

    We're fucking watching your ass, Balko.

  • kinnath||

    We need to tag LEO's with RFID and GPS tracking as a starting point.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    HA! Tie.

  • kinnath||

    I said tag the LEO himself/herself not just the vehicle.

    There needs to be a public tracking system so that someone can verify (after the fact) exactly where every LEO was at every minute of his/her work shift. {real time tracking would be a boon to criminals -- so I view this as a auditing function}

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Someone should stick a GPS tracking unit on Pasco's car. After all, we mere "civilians" have no reasonable expectation of privacy that prevents them from sticking GPS trackers on our cars, right?

  • Cyto||

    That's actually a really interesting question. If there is no violation of any privacy if the government places a tracking device on my vehicle, have I violated anyone's privacy if I place a tracker on their vehicle as a private citizen? If so, why the discrepancy?

    How about a "cop tracker" website that posts the positions of all police vehicles as tracked by citizen placed tracking devices? Exactly what crime would the creators of such a site be committing if there is no privacy right that prevents full-time GPS tracking without a warrant?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    why the discrepancy?

    Because they're the government and you're not.

    Remember the King of Id's statement of the Golden Rule? "He who has the gold makes the rules."

  • Warty||

    "I'm afraid something terrible will happen."

    Homer: You know, one day, honest citizens are gonna stand up to you crooked cops!
    Chief Wiggum: [suddenly afraid] They are? Oh, no! Have they set a date?

  • fish||

    Given the "unreasonable" constraints placed upon them, I'm sure that many in law enforcement will avail themselves to the many top flight opportunities in either the housekeeping or food service industries

  • JD||

    It's tough to find another job where you can make more than $100k per year with a high school diploma.

  • Surly Chef||

    I don't want them in my kitchen.

  • ||

    They really don't have much to fear, other than maybe having to fill out some paperwor.

    I mean, Police are allowed to beat people senseless, taze them multiple times, shoot them if they try to run away, and kill any pet in their path no matter whose property it is. I mean, as long a they get their man, who cares how it happens, right?

    There is no real punishment, other than a paid vacation while your buddy down the hall completes his investigation.

    Police should love the cameras, it makes them all look like action movie hereos!

  • Police Chief||

    "We are confident that our officers acted properly and in accordance with proper procedure. Rest assured, we treat all allegations of police misconduct seriously and they will be fully investigated."

  • Geotpf||

    Personally, I'm in favor of having a camera permanently attached to an officier's uniform, recording at all times.

    In any case, banning or restricting citzens from videotaping police is unconstifuckingtutional, so go to hell, Jim Pasco.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    unconstifuckingtutional

    I think I've found a new screen name.

  • Brett L||

    This. On duty, on camera.

  • ||

    Will they post the video of the blowjobs they get in lieu of giving desperate young women speeding tickets?

  • Brett L||

    I would not bet against it.

  • The Gobbler||

    Isn't sucking pig dick beastiality?

  • ||

    Out of the speeding-frying-pan, and into the fire.

  • fish||

    Theres a market for that too!

  • Hacha Cha||

    This is kind of why I am starting to be supportive of cameras in the public, IF, they are open access to the public. Even ones that aren't meant to be accessed by the public, if they are wireless, they are broadcast unencrypted and can be picked up by citizens. We should be able to see what the cops are doing and make it harder for cops to cover things up. I carry an mp3 player with the capability of audio recording, in case I am confronted by police so I can record the incident covertly. Its legal to do this where I live, and in 46 other states.

  • Cyto||

    I'll add on a blanket repeal of any laws requiring more than single party consent to record. If I can testify to what I personally heard, and I can make notes as to what I heard, there is no reason that I cannot record what I heard, other than to preserve someones ability to lie about what they said.

  • ||

    For the most part they still need a court order to listen to your calls. I'm not sure I would agree to removing that requirement.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It has had a chilling effect on some officers who are now afraid to act for fear of retribution by video.

    It sounds like some officers need better training, not less scrutiny.

  • Warty||

  • ||

    "If every officer that pulled someone over and they weren't happy, if they were challenged to a fighting match certainly those officers would all be suspended or lose their job get their ass handed to them, choked out, tapped out, knocked out," said Locke.

    FTF the douche in blue. Thanx for the link!

  • hmm||

    LoL Byrnes Mill. That police department and Locke have been under fire for at least 5 years. Podunk shithole MO police department.

    I know 4 officers and most of the FD in Eureka, about 5 miles north.

  • hmm||

    Byrnes Mill.

    Pop. 2900ish
    tickets per year >3,000

    Byrnes Mill 2007 payroll
    FT
    6- cops
    2- road workers/public works
    1- sewer worker
    PT
    4- admin

    > 50% of the employees are cops in the town. Does that tell you something?
    1- judge
    3- part time cops

  • hmm||

    oops

    > 50% of the employees are cops in the town. Does that tell you something?

    was supposed to be at the end.

  • luftwaffe||

    this is why in PA, only state troopers can use radar guns. doesn't stop the laser traps though, but those require more setup.

  • Warty||

    That is one of three good things about Pennsylvania. The others are the scenery in the middle of the state and the people's overwhelming love of guns.

  • hmm||

    In another municipality here in MO they decided to set up speed cameras on an over pass for a highway (170) that runs through less than 1/4 mile of the municipalities jurisdiction. The state didn't like it, the county didn't like it, but they did it anyway.

    The state just recently made them remove the markings from the states road that the municipality's camera used to clock cars. I love it when government fights government.

  • ||

    he's really encouraging hesitation in these situations.

    I don't read it that way, at all. I think it's just standard-issue fearmongering.

    "Don't tie our hands with this stupid 'accountability' crap. We'll all be gunned down in the street, when we're just protecting you ingrates from the barbarian hordes!"

  • ||

    Over the last year I've received email and heard from a number of police officers on radio call-in shows who've said that citizen-shot video vindicated them in cases where they had been accused of misconduct. If video has been edited or manipulated, that's pretty easy to discern should it become a key piece of evidence against a police officer.

    I'm trying to think of an incident where, unbeknownst the LEOs, their activities were recorded and just by an amazing coincidence, didn't completely contradict all of the testimony given by the LEOs at the scene. You know, usually when they're beating the snot out someone nearby to an event who "attacked" them by walking up to them.

    ...Nnnnnnope. I got nuthin.

  • ||

    Geotpf,
    I've been saying that for years. Buy one less tank, and you have enough money for mini-cams on every cop.

    More importantly, What does AR15 (or whatever that fascist bootlicking forum is) think?

  • ||

    I suppose I should said, "think" because I'm not sure any of them actually do.

  • ||

    fucking hell.

    "should have"
    or
    "say"

    Choose Your Own Correction

    (I still blame threaded comments)

  • ||

    Who knows? Im a gun nut but quit hanging out on the gun forums years ago because the majority of people there are fascist authority-worshippers.

  • Warty||

    I sometimes check out ar15.com GD when I want to feel pukey. They don't appear to be talking about this, though.

    I'm still annoyed that I got banned from there without even trying to.

  • hmm||

    They banned me for trolling people with Balko posts.

    ROFL

    The IQ of that site is just above room temperature

  • ||

    In an igloo, perhaps.

  • skr||

    He's right. They don't check their civil liberties at the door. However they do give up their right to privacy when they walk out that door into public, just like the rest of us.

  • ||

    And everywhere a cop is when he's on duty, is public.

  • ||

    If cops have an expectation of privacy in public, then so does every citizen. Arrest the cops for use of dash cams immediately! There's this handy wiretapping statute we could use!

  • GILMORE||

    because police officers have a right to privacy while on the job and because he feared video could be edited and manipulated to make cops look bad

    Everyone knows the Rodney King video *originally* only had one kick and one baton smack, and they just copy-pasted that shit over and over to make it look like teh brutality

    But seriously, it seems this guy's key point is that "if you're not cop, you're little people"! Meaning, how dare we expect to hold them to the same standard as citizens!

  • ||

    ""FOP Chief: Citizen Video Makes Cops "Afraid To Act""

    Are they that insecure about doing a good job?

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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